To Win Her Favor / by Tamera Alexander. 4.11.2017

Zondervan ISBN 9780310291077

Adult Rating: 5

In To Win Her Favor, Tamera Alexander exposes the ugliness of the bigotry and prejudice prevalent in the post-Civil War South, especially toward freedmen and immigrants. She counters with the unfailing love of God that gently reprimands, lovingly restores, and gives extravagant gifts.

The two main characters are beautifully introduced in the first pages. Maggie is a daughter of the South, living in Nashville in 1869. Her family has suffered the loss of her four brothers and mother, their land is at risk of foreclosure, and her father ill–but Maggie has a plan. She will continue to race the mare she has raised and trained and use the winnings to stave off their creditors. Maggie is naïve and brash, but a good friend and good-hearted, with a rare talent for teaching riding and training horses. Cullen McGrath is an Irish immigrant. He left England to travel to America with his wife and small daughter, both of whom died of pestilence on the journey. He is determined not to repeat the mistakes of his past, and to follow through with his family’s dream. Cullen’s first transaction, to buy a horse, culminates in a fistfight, as a bystander challenges his character. In his search for land, the Lord leads him to Linden Downs, Maggie’s farm. Her father has trusted the Lord throughout his long life, and he uses that confidence in the Lord’s leading to make a deal with Cullen: win Maggie’s favor, take her hand in marriage, and Linden Downs is his.

Alexander’s writing carries the story effortlessly, creating a landscape rich in the scents and sights of the Reconstruction era and a cast that includes a villainous banker, a wealthy patriarch, and a noble freedman, among others. Through the difficulties overcome and the refining of their characters, Cullen and Maggie learn to trust the Lord with their future, as the Lord redeems their pasts through their struggles. The story’s complexity provides abundant storylines for future books with these characters.

Diane Carver Sekeres, CLJ